This rare Sherlock Holmes film was released at the same time as the Raymond Massey picture "The Speckled Band". The story is partly based on two Conan Doyle short stories: "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House".
Sceptical about the potential success of the film, the producers sold the rights to the film to "First Division Pictures" for 800 pounds. The film was released in July 1931 under the title "Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour". It was very successful, running for over a month on Broadway, which was unprecidented for a British produced programmer.
This film was deemed lost when the only known print (a 16 mm reduction print of the US version) went missing after being shown at a Sherlock Holmes Society reception for Arthur Wontner in 1955. This version comes from a second generation copy with the titles replaced due to focus/framing issues.
PLEASE NOTE: The film is public domain. The above descriptive text is not. Please ask permission before reusing this text in any way.
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August 11, 2010 Subject:
Whether one likes it or not, this film and Arthur Wontner have important places in Holmesian film history.
In "Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration" (Justin Knowles Publishing Group: 1986"), author Allen Eyles wrote, " ... there was Arthur Wontner whose characterization of Holmes was simply masterly. Wontner was in his mid-fities when he first played Holmes in the 1931 release, 'The Sleeping Cardinal.' He had the voice, looks and presence to be totally convincing as Holmes, although it was necessarily an ageing Holmes, one more sedate and less physically active but with exactly the right pensive manner.
"The tall, thin Wontner is closer to the illustrations [by Sidney Paget] of Holmes in 'The Strand Magazine' than any other actor has been. ... 'The Sleeping Cardinal' was well received, and Arthur Wontner's performance gained the accolades it deserved."
Wontner played Holmes in following films and made his last performance on radio in 1943 in a BBC adaptation of "The Boxcombe Valley Mystery." Eyles wrote that "Wontner's fine interpretation was recognized by the new Sherlock Holmes Society of London, when he was the guest of honour at the annual dinner in 1955," one of only two actors who'd played Holmes to be so honored.
My sincerest thanks to IA and whomever provided this and other historical S.H. films available on the Net.
April 20, 2010 Subject:
A few giggles, relatively short and to the point, this isn't an action-packed Holmes but a nice little film regardless. Quite 'armless. Visually quite interesting, exploiting the visual impact of light and dark with the admittedly limited camera technology used. The sound of footsteps on stairs hasn't been this creepy since Frankenstein.
An unusually bright Watson, a non-catty Lestrade and a random woman perpetually wearing evening gowns complete the notable secondaries, and I somehow in my sleep-deprived mind suspect that the latter was added to counteract a very touchy-feely Holmes. Well worth a watch, although the blurriness was a tad annoying. Oh well-- sic transit gloria cinema and all that.
But ROBERT Moriarty? If you say so Holmes...
September 7, 2009 Subject:
I use the search function to find movies, but not all movies have the appropriate keywords/metadata, and so on. It is sometimes hard to find things.
July 14, 2009 Subject:
I agree. You have to check the Open Source collection every day or you miss stuff.
July 13, 2009 Subject:
How on earth can this be considered an Open Source movie when it quite clearly is not?
Quite a few Public Domain features seem recently to have been erroneously uploaded into the Open Source section, where of course they immediately get lost among all the millions of experimental animations and holiday snaps. It's destroying the Archive.